A broad collection strategy for beverage packaging: Win-win for the environment and for local authorities

NVRD, Roteb, SNM and VNG, representing Dutch local authorities and the environmental movement, commissioned CE and Bureau B&G to elaborate a new policy strategy for beverage packaging. The study was conducted as a matter of urgency, following the announcement by national government and industry, shortly before the summer break, of a new plan for PET beverage bottles to which local governments were keen to respond. The local government scenario has three aims: a high level of environmental protection, a robust litter strategy and minimum cost to the community. It was calculated that clearing up beverage packaging litter, including the emptying of litter bins and waste processing, currently costs 5.7 euro cents per can or bottle. A deposit system achieving a return percentage of around 85% of these items will cut these costs substantially. Earlier research has indicated, moreover, that deposits on cans and bottles reduce litter by about 83% in these categories. The costs of this kind of deposit system, possibly also using one-way glass, approximately equal revenues from non-recovered deposits and sales of material for recycling. The savings to the community are thus equal to the cost of litter clearance. To prevent the local government scheme distorting the competitiveness of beverage cartons and other forms of packaging that are not collected, it is proposed to spread the collection of revenue by imposing a charge on a broad range of packaging types, earmarked to the cost of waste disposal and environmental performance. The report concludes by reviewing the environmental impacts of specific types of beverage packaging. Returnable glass and PET and beverage cartons prove to perform best in this respect, with one-way PET and cans scoring lower but still reasonably well. Despite being recycled by way of bottle banks, one-way glass scores worst. With respect to beverage cans, it is noteworthy that the aluminium variety scores better in a deposit system than the present steel model. By presenting this plan, local authorities hope to establish a constructive dialogue with the industry and with national government, in pursuit of an integrated strategy for beverage packaging.

Report in Dutch language

Authors CE

Geert Bergsma

Delft, August 2004